My late ex-husband didn’t show love for me all the time but he always said he “loved me.” And I was “beautiful.”
When I (finally) realized he loved me as a possession, I had the will to leave — and left. Then he kept asking me and himself, “Didn’t I say I loved you/her? Didn’t I say you were/she was beautiful?”
So I buy the author’s interpretation with some caveats.